CBS Eyes Another Potential Total Viewer Victory in 2017-18

by Marc Berman  |  05.17.2017

Coming off its ninth straight year of dominance in total viewers and emphasizing the ongoing value of network television even in a rapidly changing environment, CBS will introduce eight new primetime series in 2017-18. The breakdown is an equal split – four scripted comedies and four dramas. Six of the eight new series will launch this fall, impacting three nights of the week — excluding Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Two new series will be saved for midseason.

The Eye’s new fall entries are sitcoms 9JKL, Young Sheldon and Me, Myself and I, and dramas SEAL Team, Wisdom of the Crowd and the revival of S.W.A.T. With more returning established hit series than any competing network, the inherent advantage at CBS is its available lead-in support. Each of the new entries will be positioned out of a returning series, at least initially. Crowd pleaser The Big Bang Theory will be used to support two of the new comedies: Mondays during Thursday Night Football season into 9JKL and Thursdays after football into prequel Young Sheldon.

Delaying the start of Young Sheldon until after Thursday Night Football is an obvious attempt to build anticipation, and 9JKL will air returning Kevin Can Wait once The Big Bang Theory shifts back to Thursday.

Four returning CBS series will move to new time periods this fall: sophomore sitcom Superior Donuts to Monday at 9:30 p.m. out of newbie Me, Myself and I, which opens the season in the Monday 9 p.m. half-hour out of Kevin Can Wait; veteran Criminal Minds to Wednesday at 10 p.m. out of SEAL Team, and Sunday dramas NCIS: Los Angeles and Madam Secretary, which will each shift back one hour to 9-11 p.m. Five returning series – The Amazing Race, Code Black, Elementary, Man with a Plan and Undercover Boss—will be on hold until midseason.

The Spin

“Obviously our world is changing dramatically every single day and with everything we do: measurement, data, advertising , the way we sell our shows, how we sell our shows and cross-platforming,” said Les Moonves, chairman of the board, president, and chief executive officer of CBS Corporation. “I think we have been the leader in opening up streaming services; we have three of them now. And our mantra is any platform that exists out there cannot exist without CBS. Whether you are a 200-channel bundle, or a skinny bundle of 30 or 40 channels, or you are just buying CBS All Access, we are the true definition of Must See TV.”

“For the first time, less than 50 percent of our revenue comes from advertising,” he added. “About five years ago that number was somewhere in the low-70 percent range. It has really changed and it effects what we have been doing on television because now more than 50 percent of the revenue of network television comes from the shows at other places. So the backend is now worth more than the front end.”

The Reality

Every upfront season, CBS presents the strongest primetime line-up, which stems from years of introducing new hit series in strategically supported time periods where each show can achieve sampling. This year is no exception, with every reason to expect its total viewer advantage to extend into next season and beyond.

But this season only one of the CBS sophomore returnees, drama Bull, was a bona fide hit. The introduction of familiar crime-solvers such as SEAL Team and S.W.A.T., both seemingly attractions for CBS’ older male audience, is likely to keep the network’s median age well above that of its competitors. And touting CBS All Access, in particular, may be a bit premature given no one knows for sure how the digital platform is really doing. Did anyone really watch Big Brother: Over the Top or The Good Fight?

Over on CBS All Access, CBS also made noise today by revealing the first full trailer for its much-anticipated new series, Star Trek: Discovery. The show will premiere on CBS itself, with 15 total episodes as well as an aftershow, Talking Trek, on CBS All Access.

Still, what CBS, and its competitors, need to work on is how to build digital platforms that build on and don’t cannibalize their linear audiences.

What follows is the fall 2017 primetime line-up for CBS with new programs in all caps, followed by the new program descriptions.

Monday (Before Thursday Night Football)

8:00 p.m. The Big Bang Theory

8:30 p.m 9JKL

9:00 p.m. Kevin Can Wait (new time)

9:30 p.m. ME, MYSELF & I

10:00 p.m. Scorpion

Monday (After Thursday Night Football)

8:00 p.m. Kevin Can Wait

8:30 p.m. 9JKL

9:00 p.m. Me, Myself & I

9:30 p.m. Superior Donuts (new time)

10:00 p.m. Scorpion


8:00 p.m. NCIS

9:00 p.m. Bull

10:00 p.m. NCIS: New Orleans


8:00 p.m. Survivor

9:00 p.m. SEAL TEAM

10:00 p.m. Criminal Minds (new time)


8:00 p.m. Thursday Night Football

Thursday (After Football)

8:00 p.m. The Big Bang Theory


9:00 p.m. Mom

9:30 p.m. Life in Pieces

10:00 p.m. S.W.A.T.


8:00 p.m. MacGyver

9:00 p.m. Hawaii Five-O

10:00 p.m. Blue Bloods


8:00 p.m. Crimetime Saturday (repeat)

9:00 p.m. Crimetime Saturday (repeat)

10:00 p.m. 48 Hours


7:00 p.m. 60 Minutes


9:00 p.m. NCIS: Los Angeles (new time)

10:00 p.m. Madam Secretary (new time)

New Program Descriptions


Instinct (midseason)

Instinct stars Alan Cumming as a former CIA operative who is lured back to his old life when the NYPD needs his help to stop a serial killer. Dr. Dylan Reinhart (Cumming) is a gifted author and university professor living a quiet life teaching psychopathic behavior to packed classes of adoring students. But when top NYPD detective Lizzie Needham appeals to him to help her catch a serial murderer who is using Dylan’s first book as a tutorial, Dylan is compelled by the case, comes out of retirement and taps into his old skill set. Though Dylan and Lizzie initially clash, when it comes to catching killers, they realize they will make an ideal team if they both trust their instincts. Based on the soon to be published James Patterson book. Michael Rauch, Marc Webb, Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin (Secret Hideout), James Patterson, Bill Robinson, Leopoldo Gout and Alan Cumming are executive producers for CBS Television Studios. Webb directed the pilot.

The cast includes, Bojana Novakovic as Lizzie Needham, Daniel Ings as Andy, Naveen Andrews as Julian Cousins and Khandi Alexander as Lt. Monica Ford.


Seal Team stars David Boreanaz in a military drama that follows the professional and personal lives of the most elite unit of Navy SEALs as they train, plan and execute the most dangerous, high stakes missions our country can ask of them. Deployed on clandestine missions worldwide at a moment’s notice, and knowing the toll it takes on them and their families, this tight-knit SEAL team displays unwavering patriotism and fearless dedication, even in the face of overwhelming odds. Ben Cavell, Ed Redlich, Chris Chulack, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly are executive producers for CBS Television Studios. Emmy Award winner Chulack directed the pilot.

The cast includes Max Thieriot as Clay Spenser, Neil Brown Jr. as Ray, A.J. Buckley as Sonny, Toni Trucks as Diaz and Jessica Paré as Mandy Ellis.


Inspired by the television series and feature film, S.W.A.T. stars Shemar Moore as a locally born S.W.A.T. sergeant newly tasked to run a specialized tactical unit that is the last stop in law enforcement in Los Angeles. Torn between loyalty to the streets where he was raised and allegiance to his brothers in blue, former Marine Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (Moore) has everything it takes to successfully bridge the divide between his two worlds and excel at leading his dedicated team of brave men and women as they risk their lives to protect the community. Aaron Thomas, Shawn Ryan, Justin Lin, Neal Moritz, Marney Hochman, Danielle Woodrow and Pavun Shetty are executive producers for Sony Pictures Television in association with CBS Television Studios. Lin directed the pilot.

The cast includes Stephanie Sigman as Jessica Cortez, Alex Russell as Jim Street, Jay Harrington as David “Deacon” Kay, Lina Esco as Christina “Chris” Alonso, Kenny Johnson as Dominique Luca and Peter Onorati as Mumford.

Wisdom of the Crowd

Jeremy Piven is featured as a visionary tech innovator who creates a cutting-edge crowdsourcing app to solve his daughter’s murder, and revolutionizes crime solving in the process. Inspired by the notion that a million minds are better than one, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jeffrey Tanner (Piven) develops “Sophe,” an online platform for publicly shared information, and recruits the original cop who searched for his daughter’s killer, Det. Tommy Cavanaugh (Richard T. Jones), to work with him.

As Tanner taps into the “wisdom of the crowd,” his unexpected success fuels his determination to solve even more cases than just the one that’s personal to him. Ted Humphrey; Adam Davidson (pilot); Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Peter Traugott, Rachel Kaplan (Keshet Media Group); and Dror Mishani and Shira Hadad are executive producers for CBS Television Studios in association with Universal Television. Davidson directed the pilot. Based on the Israeli format of the same name.

The cast includes Richard T. Jones as Det. Tommy Cavanaugh, Natalia Tena as Sara Morton, Blake Lee as Josh Novak, Jake Matthews as Tariq Bakari and Monica Potter as Alex Hale.



9JKL stars Mark Feuerstein in a family comedy inspired by his real life. Josh Roberts (Feuerstein) is a new divorcé and actor between projects who moves home to New York to regroup, living in an apartment sandwiched between his doting, meddlesome parents on one side and his competitive brother, sister-in-law and their new baby on the other.

As Josh’s family literally comes at him from both sides, he realizes he desperately needs to establish some personal boundaries, because his loving family is always going to be right there for him. Dana Klein, Mark Feuerstein, Aaron Kaplan, Wendi Trilling, Dana Honor and Pam Fryman are executive producers for Kapital Entertainment in association with CBS Television Studios. Fryman directed the pilot.

The cast includes Linda Lavin as Judy, Elliott Gould as Harry, David Walton as Andrew, Liza Lapira as Eve and Matt Murray as Nick.

By the Book (midseason)

By the Book is a comedy about a modern day man at a crossroads in his life who decides to live strictly in accordance with the Bible. Chip Curry (Jay R. Ferguson) is the film critic for a New York newspaper and a soon-to-be father who wants to be a better man following the loss of his best friend.

As he begins his sincere spiritual journey toward a more moral life with the help of his wife and friends, he wonders if he’ll be able to take a page – or every page – out of the Good Book, and if the effect will be of Biblical proportions. Based on The New York Times bestselling book “The Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs. Patrick Walsh, Johnny Galecki, Andrew Haas, Spencer Medof and multiple Emmy Award winner Andy Ackerman (pilot) are executive producers for Alcide Bava Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios. Ackerman directed the pilot.

The cast includes Lindsey Kraft as Leslie, Ian Gomez as Father Gene, David Krumholtz as Rabbi Ableman, Tony Rock as Vince and Camryn Manheim as Ms. Meadows.

Me, Myself & I

Me, Myself & I stars Bobby Moynihan in a comedy about the defining moments in one man’s life over three distinct periods – as a 14-year-old in 1991, at age 40 in present day and at age 65 in 2042.

During these pivotal periods of yesterday, today and tomorrow, Alex always finds a way to move forward with determination and humor, knowing his life story isn’t defined by the bad things that happen to him, but instead by how he chooses to deal with them. Dan Kopelman, Aaron Kaplan, Dana Honor and Randall Einhorn (pilot only) are executive producers for Kapital Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios. Einhorn directed the pilot.

The cast includes Dylan Grazer (Alex, 1991), Brian Unger (Ron, 1991, present day), Jaleel White (Darryl, present day), Kelen Coleman (Abby, 2042), Skylar Gray (Abby, present day), Christopher Paul Richards (Justin, 1991), Mandell Maughan (Maggie, 1991), Reylynn Caster (Nori, 1991), with Sharon Lawrence (Eleanor, 2042) and John Larroquette (Alex, 2042).

Young Sheldon

For 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage), it isn’t easy growing up in East Texas. Being a once-in-a-generation mind capable of advanced mathematics and science isn’t always helpful in a land where church and football are king. And while the vulnerable, gifted and somewhat naïve Sheldon deals with the world, his very normal family must find a way to deal with him. THE BIG BANG THEORY’s multiple Emmy Award winner Jim Parsons narrates as Adult Sheldon. This single-camera, half-hour comedy gives us the chance to meet Sheldon in childhood, as he embarks on his innocent, awkward and hopeful journey toward the man he will become. Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro created the series and executive produce along with Jim Parsons and Todd Spiewak for Warner Bros. Television. Jon Favreau directed the pilot.

The cast includes Zoe Perry as Mary, Lance Barber as George Sr., Raegan Revord as Missy and Montana Jordan as Georgie Jr. The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons narrates the comedy as Adult Sheldon.

[Cube image courtesy of Marc Berman]

Tags:   upfronts 2017 CBS
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